Saturday, 26 October 2013
Day 81 - Banteay Srei, Preah Vihear and Koh Ker
We started early again and arrived at Banteay Srei, the lady temple, just before sunrise. Getting there that early meant we were almost alone, aside from a group of photographers roaming around with their big dSLRs and tripods.
Banteay Srei is one of the nicest temples due to the red stone construction but mostly due to the very detailed and intricate carvings on the walls. It's certainly worth getting there early to avoid masses of tourists as the temple itself is pretty small and you want to be able to enjoy it.
On the way to get breakfast we stopped off at Ta Mok House. While there is not much to see there and it's pretty derelict, it is still interesting to see if in the area. The wall murals are quite interesting and you gt to see the rusty remains of Pol Pot's mobile radio station.
After breakfast and a Jeep ride up the mountain we arrived at Preah Vihear, the temple disputed and fought over by Cambodia and Thailand.
Even before arriving at the temple you will understand the extent of the dispute as you will drive by quite a lot of military bases, bunkers and quite a lot of soldiers with guns.
The dispute over the temple aside, it is a very nice temple built on the top of the mountain providing great views over Cambodia and Thailand. It is a shame there is this dispute with Thailand over who owns the temple as both countries could do well with putting some money towards restoring it and making access easier for people of both countries to enjoy it.
You should take a driver or guide with you who speaks the language as it will be much more fun if he can translate and help you talk with the soldiers there guarding the temple now.
It kind of feels a bit like you are in a war zone and in some respects you are, thus the advice against travelling here. It is however well worth the long trip and I hope the dispute will end soon to make things easier and access better, more though to allow restoration of the temple
After taking in the fantastic views from the mountain we headed back down and set out for our return trip to Siem Reap and a quick stop at the Koh Ker temple complex.
At Koh Ker you have quite a lot of small temples and a bigger one further inside the park. We stopped only at the most interesting ones due to time but also because some of the smaller temples are not much more than a pile of rocks.
We arrived back in Siem Reap after dark, just in time to get dinner, some drinks and make sure we got our bus ticket to Poiphet. From there we will be heading onwards to Bangkok.